Tarad'am

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Also known as "Black Market", "that wretched hive of scum and villainy", and many other unprintable names.

Tarad'am is a treaty city, a city-state founded by joint effort of the Ship Folk and the Stone Throne in 212 AC after the Devil's Rebellion was crushed. It belongs to neither the Ship Folk or (now) the Serpent Dominion. It is ruled by the Governor and his (or her) Admiralty Board, a select group of advisors, ship captains, and wealthy individuals chosen by the Governor. In Tarad'am, the only laws that matters are that of strength and coin. With coin you buy strength, and with strength you protect your coin. If you have neither, you obey those that do. Or else. And the Governor and the Admiralty Board have the most strength and coin--the instant that they don't, they get deposed by those whose strength and or coin is superior.

As a free port, anyone is allowed to dock here, and foreign writs do not run. Anything is for sale. Serpentstrike operates openly here; few of the other Registered Companies do (mainly Delicate Apocalypse, Imperial Legacy, and Selan's Seekers).

Government as of 250 AC

The current Governor is Yang il'Poerla, a human male in his late 30s. He took the Governor's Mansion 3 years ago in a bloodless coup after orchestrating the fall from wealth and power of the prior Governor, Ki'al of Kel'al'ar. Known for being twisty-minded but fair, Yang has kept his enemies close and at each others' throats by playing all sides. His money comes mostly legitimately from the import and export business.

Laws

  1. Don't Get Caught. If you're not caught, there was no crime.
  2. Don't Anger the Neighbors. Governor Yang would rather not see armies and navies from the Ship Folk or the Serpent Dominion on his doorstep. If you cause an incident, you'll pay with your own head.
  3. Take Care of Your Own Business. This one is aimed at the various organizations and follows from the previous ones. Police yourselves and you'll be left alone.
  4. Don't Be Bad for Others' Business. If you screw with other people and get caught (see rule 1), expect to pay.
  5. Don't Shove Your Tastes in Others' Faces. This goes especially for the more potent drugs, demon summoning, and other such things. Don't do it in public. That includes buying and selling.
  6. Leave Your Squabbles at the Gates (or Docks). Whatever happened out there, don't let your crew get into brawls with other crews. If you have to settle things, either keep it quiet (see rule 1) or keep it outside the city.

Penalties

There is only one. Public execution. The methods vary based on the whim of the Governor. His current favorite is exposure in a cage.

Gangs and Crews

Almost everyone who lives in Tarad'am is part of either a Gang or a Crew (the only difference being whether you're mostly on land or mostly at sea). Gangs and Crews protect their own. A few of the most prominent such groups:

The Dockers
Started by workers at the docks and docks warehouses, they control much of the dockside. Cargo flowing through their docks and warehouses is protected and guaranteed priority, as long as the appropriate fees are paid. Non-payment generally results in unfortunate accidents.
Three Red Sails
This crew owns a small fleet of ships. In theory they're escort ships, paid to ensure safe passage of goods to Sentinel Island and onward to the rest of the Primal Sea. In reality they're buccaneers and freebooters, extorting protection money from merchant ships. Run by sena'ka with ties to the Fleets of the Ship Folk.
Dimwit Syndicate
This criminal organization controls much of the drug trade and has strong ties to Serpentstrike.
Laughing Crypt
This is the other criminal organization. They're much more concerned with the vice trade (gambling, prostitution, protection money, theft, assassination, etc) within the city.
Broken Chains
This is a new organization, one that has only stayed around because they're very good at following Rule 1. Called "do-gooders" and "interfering busy-bodies" and lots of other names, they extort the extorters, rob the robbers, and generally work for the common folk. Who rarely appreciate their service.

Population

Roughly 6-10k. No one's keeping track, and the population is highly transitory. All types of folks mingle here, but the most common are the fang-kin of the Jungle of Fangs and the Ship Folk and their slaves.

Trade

Tarad'am thrives on trade. At the mouth of the Zazhi River, which connects to Lake Thom in one unbroken, navigable stretch, it is a natural chokepoint and natural harbor. Much of the goods and supplies for the Serpent Dominion's western colonies flows through here, with a minority going overland to Tong Il and Tong Kad. And all trade with Sentinel Island and its vast plantations and herds comes through Tarad'am.

As for manufacturing, Tarad'am has multiple drug, dye, and alchemical manufactories, drawing ingredients from the surrounding jungles as well as the plantations of Sentinel Island. The majority of this manufacturing is legitimate even in more puritanical nations--analgesics, cosmetics, dyes, reagents, etc. For example, almost all of the best blue dyes are made just outside the walls of Tarad'am.